Wednesday, April 11, 2007

But I Didn't Say I Wasn't a Wolf

Not to harp on Grindhouse any more than I already have, but I would like to use the film as a springboard for a brief discussion about music and the odd intersection of my life and popular culture that, according to my Blogger “about me” mission statement, served as the impetus to start this pile of words to begin with.

Aside from providing me mental chewing gum to work over for a good week or so, the arrival of a new Quentin Tarantino film also grants access to a soundtrack that’s damn near guaranteed to assemble bygone hits, obscure gems and all manner of new-to-me musical goodness. The Kill Bill soundtrack, for example, gave me the hopping cover of “I’m Blue” by The’s, “Run Fay Run” by Isaac Hayes and more Ennio Morricone than I ever realized I needed in my life. The Death Proof soundtrack did not disappoint, with the three standouts being “Baby, It’s You,” “Chick Habit” and “Hold Tight.”

This particular version of “Baby, It’s You” — a Burt Bacharach-penned song that was apparently first popularized by the Shirelles — is by Smith, a 60s blues band not to be confused with 80s rock band The Smiths. Despite the spot-on vocals by Gayle McCormick, “Baby, It’s You” marks Smith’s only hit. I can best describe the song as sounding something an edgier version of The Fifth Dimension might have release, had The Fifth Dimension had the balls. That comparison may stem from the fact that I’ve heard “Wedding Bell Blues” playing on my mom’s radio and in grocery stores my whole life. Sure, it’s catchy ditty, as far as mellow gold goes, but with “Baby, It’s You” playing in my head all day, I can’t help but to feel a little resentful that “Wedding Bell Blues” has occupied a space in my memory all these years. A truly righteous number like this Death Proof-spawned song should have rightly held that spot. That’s how much I dig this.

Anyway, it doesn’t stand alone. “Chick Habit,” the campy throwback that plays over the film’s closing credits also rocks. A cover-and-translation of “Laisse Tomber Les Filles,” the song has a manic, cartoony sound that made it the one song I could immediately recall upon leaving the theater. The girl who sings it, April March, is a bit of a phenomenon herself. The Wikipedia article on her explains that she had formerly worked as an artist for Archie Comics and as an animator for Ren and Stimpy and Pee Wee’s Playhouse. Now she’s a singer, perhaps most famous for releasing the album Paris in April — all Serge Gainsbourg covers — and marrying Warren Zanes, a man with the considerable honor of having the title “Vice President of Education for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.” They sound like a fun pair.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention “Hold Tight.” In Jungle Julia’s final moments on screen, she calls her radio station and requests this song by the British band Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mich & Tich, which she credits with nearly stealing Pete Townsend away from The Who, perhaps to the betterment of the stealers. (Julia explains that had the shipped been jumped, the group would have effectively and logically been transformed into Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick, Tich & Pete Townsend.) Then Julia and her friends die horrifically. But that hasn’t prevented me from liking the song.

“Hold Tight” was actually in my head this morning on the way to work when I saw something that provoked an unusual reaction for me: I whipped out my camera phone.

I have literally passed this vintage concert poster every day I’ve walked to work since I started my job in December. It sits in the window of a shop on Figueroa Street. For whatever reason, I noticed it today. All five of them — Messrs. Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mich and Tich — apparently played at the Santa Barbara Bowl back in the day.

And that, friends, is something that will forever delight me: the proof that no matter how new or strange or obscure bits of pop culture may be, they will undoubtedly enter my life, often in strange ways and often sooner than I expected.

And now bonuses. "Baby, It's You."

"Chick Habit" set to small, non-spoilery clips from Death Proof.

The original, French version of "Chick Habit."

"Hold Tight," in glorious monochrome.


  1. There's a great version of Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe doing "Baby, It's You" too.

    good think I'm not having kids, or I'd have to name one "dcqcg."

  2. why not buy a new greyhound and stick him with that name?

  3. Three greyhounds!? I'm crazy but I'm not totally insane.